Another Friday – another roundup. This week we’ve seen the Tour of Qatar and it was good, it looks like it could be a very big season indeed with plenty of contenders. Shout out to Mr Wiggins, a brave effort trying to go solo with 3km to go and those strong winds – classic big ring behaviour which should be applauded. Monday is of course Valentines day, we thought it important to make sure it’s all coordinated, so can you please send all gifts, proposals, chocolates and bottles to ‘The A Team’ at our usual address. We will try and reply, but the sheer volume of correspondence may prevent us from getting back to all of you for which we apologise in advance. In the meantime, if you’re after something for your loved one check out our Valentines promotions.
We’re currently weighing up the feasibility of this weeks caption competition prize being a night out with the Product manager team, check it out on Facebook to see if we’ve been allowed and if the general consensus was that it would be fun! So, without further ado, grab a small to medium sized piece of shortbread (depending on where you’re at in your training schedule), grab a beverage of choice and let’s kick on with this weeks news!
London 2012 Olympic Course Revealed.
Earlier in the week, the London 2012 road race route was announced. Riders will embark on the 250km route on the opening competitive day of the games, less than 24 hours after the opening ceremony. To avoid the criticism suffered by the Beijing 2008 road race organisers, London 2012 have gone for a spectator friendly route with the Hills in Surrey offering various opportunities for fans to watch and support riders. Other vantage points for crowds include Richmond Park, Twickenham and Hampton Court Palace. The race has a royal feel to it with the start and finish at the Mall in front of Buckingham palace.
The course boasts a relatively flat profile in the last 15km which has caught the attention of Mark Cavendish who is gunning for a gold medal in front of a home crowd. Cavendish described the race as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in the road race on the opening day of the London 2012 Games in front of home fans [and it] is going to be amazing.” The last five Olympic road races have been decided by breakaways and the Manx Missile has a point to prove after being the only member of the GB track cycling team to come away from the 2008 Beijing Olympics without a medal. Let’s just hope he manages to stay on his bike!
On Sunday afternoon Ricardo Ricco (Vacansoleil), who has previously served a ban for the use of EPO, was taken to hospital critically ill in the early stages of renal failure and septicaemia. Now stable and recovering, Ricco allegedly told the doctor the source of this infection could be a blood transfusion he had with blood which had been incorrectly stored over 25 days.
This has led to widespread condemnation amongst the peloton, once again raising the question of whether riders can redeem themselves and if there is such a thing as a clean ex-doper. The Italian police are continuing their investigations and we will certainly be keeping an eye on how it progresses. It seems doubtful we’ll see Ricco in the peloton again.
We thought we’d bring back Contador corner this week considering the fact that there’s evidence for the beginning of an interesting U-turn in the meat-gate scandal. Long story cut short – the news is that the Spanish riders’ ban may now be overturned.
Last week it was looking grim for AC. Nevertheless, it was recently revealed that the Spanish cycling federation’s competitions committee, who originally supported a one-year ban for AC, are now considering overturning the decision due to legal considerations. It has been suggested that members of the committee are convinced by his ‘tainted steak’ story.
As a result, the Spanish federation has declared that AC’s positive test result was due to ‘extenuating circumstances’ and not through ‘negligence nor responsibility’. They even go on to state that they are convinced AC did not use a medical product containing clenbuterol, or undergone a blood transfusion, or microdosed with the product.
Considering these judgements, it’s likely that AC’s legal team will now base their case primarily on the idea that his positive test result was due to factors beyond his control.
Contador has called for the introduction of thresholds on certain substances, suggesting:
“Modern science is able to detect infinitely small quantities of certain prohibited substances that cannot enhance the athlete’s performance, nor can they be taken voluntarily, unless ingested through food. I think that the rules need to be continuously revised according to scientific progress”.
Contador will undoubtedly spurred on by additional support from the Spanish Prime Minister, who also believes Contador to be innocent. In response to AC’s call for thresholds, the Prime Minister has this to say:
“It does not appear logical, bearing in mind scientific advancement, that there aren’t any thresholds for certain products that, according to the experts, do not enhance performance in these negligible quantities.”
A final verdict on the case is due early next week so keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages and we’ll let you know as soon as we know!
The Tour of Qatar:
This week much of my time between 12pm and 1pm has been spent watching the ToQ via the web.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes the office to see Pro Tour racing again after the long dark winter. Seen by many as a boring race, nothing beats relaxing while watching the Pros do the work. The sunshine, the colours, the new bikes and the sheer level of bike handling skill. Illustrated best by Flecha who was unable to avoid the barriers which got blown over by a gust of wind (not unusual at the ToQ!), here’s the resulting damage!
Stage 5 is running as I write (43.29km to go) with Garmin-Cervelo setting the pace with a duo at 4 mins. The last few days have provided some great sprints and some ambitious break-away attempts as Ant has eluded to above.
Here’s a quick overview:
Lars Boom blasted to victory beating Fab Fabian by 4 seconds. Alex Dowsett was the best placed Brit in 5th. Cav took a tumble but was ok – he’s a tough IoM guy!
Boonen is back! a great sprint from a fair way out saw him on the podium and take the Gold jersey into the third day.
Watch this for a quality finish from Tom Boonen:
Haussler is also back! After an unfortunate year with knee problems he’s definitely been riding his bike in his time off. Another fast sprint and great to see the now Aussie rider winning.
This day made it 2 for Heinrich. Today’s win gave him the Gold jersey with the wind wreaking havoc on the peloton with a group coming in over 32 minutes behind!
Another day for the Aussies with Mark Renshaw sprinting for the line having had a ‘lucky’ last few hundred meteres. He now wears Gold.
As I’ve been writing the two in the breakaway have just 2:33 after the BMC rider punctured! Garmin Cervelo are still dictating the pace with Haussler nicely tucked in plus shots of Cav and Renshaw sitting comfortably close behind.
So a steady race by all accounts, but who doesn’t enjoy seeing the Pro peloton back on the road? Anything you’ve seen that I’ve missed?
Video of the Week:
Epic, brave, foolhardy? All of them probably.
Pictures of the Week:
Tweet of the Week:
This week’s tweet of the week comes from Bradley Wiggins:
bradwiggins Bradley Wiggin:Balls to valentines day, everyday is valentines day when your married to the Wigmeister
Pick of the Week’s new Product:
Some Gore 25th Anniversary Limited Edition clothing has come in this week, if you haven’t tried Gore products then give them a go, we’re converts!
PBK Deals and Promotions:
- To celebrate Valentines and give you a chance to look after the one you love, we have upto 40% off bike care and maintenance products including a super tool kit plus products from Finish line, Pedros and Park Tool are all included in the promotions. Stocks are going quickly so don’t hang around.
- We have offers on Shimano cleats with over 25% off , Clif Bar race packs and over 45% off some Schwalbe Stelvio tyres.
- The new range of 2011 Zipp Wheels are starting to arrive and looking very smart!
- Next week we’re expecting a Nalini Moa top up, plus a Limited Exclusive on some excellent co-branded clothing, it’s quite exciting!
What are we upto this weekend?
- Grant is sticking it to the man by not making firm plans. He’ll be riding a fixie next.
- John is off to Geordie land (Newcastle) to partay and meet up with some friends.
- Chris is infiltrating numerous hen parties in Blackpool this weekend.
- Anthony is going back in time and will be doing some ‘walking’, which basically involves imagining how much better it would be riding the singletrack not walking it.